Meet the Dubai volunteer who has fostered 57 dogs and counting

Read one animal lover's quest to rehome forgotten furry friends — and discover how you can help too

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Meet Helen Bragger — the woman who has a new housemate every month.

For seven years, the Dubai resident, who is originally from the UK, and her husband Mike Silver have fostered dogs from K9 Friends shelter, welcoming a whopping 57 furry lodgers into their Dubai villa — and they have no plans to slow down.

Despite adopting two of their guests, desert dogs Rain and Aqua, Bragger, 41, still opens her doors to an endless flurry of paws in her quest to care for as many stray or abandoned animals as possible.

“The best chance a dog has of being rehomed is if we can find out more about how they are in the home and build a profile to share with potential owners,” says Bragger, who has volunteered at K9 Friends since 2014.

“Often people come to the shelter looking for pedigree breeds or a specific size or look. The mixed-breed desert dogs are often overlooked but they are just as worthy.”

Scroll through the gallery below to see the dogs up for adoption at K9 Friends.

In the UAE, dog shelters are often overwhelmed when people return to their home countries and leave their pets behind. For older dogs and less popular breeds, the animals often end up seeing out their days in the shelter.

Bragger fostered her first dog, Rain, just weeks after moving to Dubai while waiting for her paperwork to be processed.

The desert mix was found by rescuers cowering in the rain with her siblings when she was just three days old; she spent the next two-and-a-half years living in the kennels.

“I’ve always been a dog lover and I saw those early days as a chance to help out while there wasn’t a lot else going on,” says Bragger. “At that time, I didn’t want to commit to adopting a dog for the next 10 or 15 years, but I wanted to do something to help.

“When I took Rain back to the shelter after a month, I was really upset but she didn’t even look back at me, she was so happy to be back.

“The dogs are incredibly well looked after and happy at K9 Friends, but being in a foster home is really beneficial to them and helps them find forever homes.

“I kept fostering Rain intermittently after that and 18 months later I took her home with me for good.”

Bragger’s second dog and fellow desert mix, Aqua, was found on the streets of Sharjah when he was just nine weeks old with his mother and siblings. Now, he and Rain are inseparable.

“Rain definitely rules the roost but she and Aqua are a great team and they help the foster dogs settle in when they arrive,” says Bragger.

“We try to keep to a two-dog rule but sometimes we can’t help but bring more dogs home with us.”

Bragger and Silver have even delivered pups from one of their foster dogs, Jody, after she went into labour in their spare bedroom.

“Jody gave birth to seven puppies while we were fostering her,” says Silver. “For the next five weeks, we raised the puppies, which was incredibly hard work but really rewarding.”

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Our sweet but nervous dogs need to be in a home for a few days to realise that they are in a safe space and cared for and this is where fostering makes a huge impact
Siddhi Mulaokar, K9 Friends committee member and volunteer

Currently, more than 100 dogs are looking for their forever homes at K9 Friends, and the kennel is encouraging dog lovers to foster during the summer.

“There’s a bit of a trend in the summer months when families head back to their home countries,” says volunteer and K9 Friends committee member, Siddhi Mulaokar.

“Traditionally the summer is a popular time to relocate and sadly people don’t always take their dogs with them. We also find that when children grow up and leave for college, their parents don’t always want to keep the family pet.”

Last year, after air travel resumed, K9 Friends was overwhelmed with abandoned animals as their owners jetted off overseas.

“We’re hoping that it won’t be as bad this year but typically summer is always a really busy time and we need fosterers more than ever,” says Mulaokar.

“As a fosterer you are essentially showing this dog that humans are friends and that they can trust us. That is why we say foster a dog that needs fostering. The cute white fluffy friendly dog or a puppy will find a home regardless.

“Our sweet but nervous dogs need to be in a home for a few days to realise that they are in a safe space and cared for and this is where fostering makes a huge impact.”

All fosterers at K9 Friends are given a beginning and end date, meaning that volunteers won’t be left caring for an animal that has nowhere else to go.

All the dog’s healthcare and any vet visits are also covered by K9 Friends and dog food is available to purchase in the on-site shop.

“All you need to foster is a bit of time, patience and a sense of humour,” says Bragger. “The effect you have on these animals could be life-changing for both of you.

“As for my target, I don’t really have one, I just want to help as many dogs as I can. I’d take them all home if I could.”

If you would like to foster a dog, call K9 Friends on 04 887 8739; 050 274 1949 or visit k9friends.com

Updated: June 08, 2022, 1:30 PM
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